International issues

IRIS Plus 2004-1: Regulation of Minority-Language Broadcasting

Author: Tarlach McGonagle, Institute for Information Law (IViR) of the University of Amsterdam & Andrei Richter, Moscow Media Law and Policy Centre (MMLPC)

Published: 01/02/2004

"Mehr Sprachen – mehr Europa" (More languages - more Europe) was the theme of a specialist conference on foreign languages held in 2002. However, the reverse is also true: "More Europe - more languages", a fact clearly illustrated by the problems in the recruitment of translators and interpreters for the new official languages of the 25-state European Union.

Language is an important element of European history, culture and politics; it is highly relevant to all of us that we should have the free choice of language. This also, and perhaps especially, applies to those for whom their country's official language is not their mother tongue, maybe because they speak a national minority language. These citizens' desire to choose their "own" language also applies to the audiovisual media.

This IRIS plus therefore considers whether - and if so, how – the use of minority languages in broadcasting is protected and promoted. It investigates the examples of Ireland, Latvia, Poland, Russia and Ukraine. This IRIS plus also contains information about the international legal framework which aims to determine how minority languages should be treated.